Monday, March 21, 2011

Dangerous stuff

Chibbaro, Julie. Deadly.

Prudence decides to leave her fancy school in 1906 to find a job. Her father has been missing in battle for 8 years, and her mother is barely making ends meet while working as a midwife. Ever since her brother's death due to infected injuries, Prudence has wanted to find out what causes people to die. She gets hired by the Department of Health and Sanitation and helps investigate cases of typhoid fever. Mr. Soper, her boss, quickly tracks down the cases to a Mary Mallon, who has cooked for all of the families affected, and works to get her tested and quarantined. Along the way, Prudence decides that it might be possible for her to train to be a doctor, and fulfill her dream of keeping people from dying.

Strengths: Fine for middle school, and more interesting than some of the other turn-of-the-century girls-interested-in-science books that I've seen. Well-researched, and an interesting topic. Notes at the end confirm that events were speeded up to make the book more interesting, which was a good call.

Weaknesses: Would have expected more obstacles in Prudence's way, especially from her mother.

Hobbs, Dylan. Take Me to the River.
Dylan travels to Texas to go on a river trip with his uncle and cousin, but when he arrives he finds that his uncle has taken a job in Alaska, leaving the boys alone. They decide to take some trips on their own, and run into all sorts of problems, including a Mexican kidnapper who has a young boy hostage and a major storm. Like all of Hobbs' books, this has plentiful detail about adventurous circumstances, and Dylan and Rio must rely on their own skills to save not only themselves, but the young boy.

Strengths: Lots of action and adventure.
Weaknesses: Somehow this one lost me when the uncle took off for Alaska knowing that Dylan would be coming. This would not be a problem for students, but I just didn't think the boys should have gone on this adventure at all.

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